Archive for the ‘glenn beck’ tag
Agreeing with some advice Jonathan Chait offered about political discourse and argumentation, Ta-Nehisi Coates said political commentators — I think he would probably extend this to all opinion writers — should increasingly take on intellectual giants, rather than go after mental featherweights such as Sarah Palin and Michelle Malkin:
Write about something other than current politics. Do not limit yourself to fighting with people who are alive. Fight with some of the intellectual greats. Fight with historians, scientists, and academics. And then after you fight with them, have the decency to admit when they’ve kicked your ass. Do not use your platform to act like they didn’t. Getting your ass kicked is an essential part of growing your intellectual muscle.
I agree to a degree, insofar as it helps the person doing the writing. In Christian apologetics, for instance, it would be more beneficial to the intellectual growth of the writer to argue against some of the best thinkers apologetics has to offer — William Lane Craig, Gary Habermas or Ravi Zacharias, for instance, rather than charlatans like Pat Robertson or James Dobson. That’s not to say the “best thinkers” in apologetics offer a compelling case for belief. I just mean that these “thinkers” — and I used the term loosely — sometimes hold more nuanced views on faith than less erudite pastors and priests who simply quote scripture and assume that’s going to convince us of anything. A person, then, is better equipped to argue from a position of nonbelief when she has anticipated all the ways believers jump through rhetorical hoops attempting to defend faith.
A quote from Omar Khyyam seems apt here:
The Koran! Well, come put me to the test — Lovely old book in hideous error drest. Believe me, I can quote the Koran too. The unbeliever knows his Koran best.
That’s Rhetoric 101. Know your opponents, and anticipate their arguments. So, in this regard providing commentary on the brightest thinkers from any field of inquiry, rather than the most asinine, continues a pattern of learning that, as Coates argues, should not stop once a person gets a college degree.
What Coates doesn’t address is the flip side to this. Does pointing out stupidity benefit readers or does it just needlessly proliferate garbage and give people like Malkin more “air time” than they deserve? Media Matters, of course, has more or less built an empire on pointing out stupidity that takes place on FOX News on a daily basis, and I could crash this server writing about the latest antics of people like Malkin, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and their ilk. While I criticize them on here occasionally, would it be helpful to the larger and probably never-ending debate about which ideology, liberal or conservative, is the best one for leading a nation? Probably not.
But I think pointing out stupidity accomplishes at least two important goals. Deservedly, it marginalizes people like Beck and Malkin and their ultra-religious counterparts to the sidelines. Second, and more importantly, it shines a bright light on just how far the political and religious message in America has gone off the rails and how far the GOP spectrum has shifted, and making light of this could hopefully result in more moderate approaches, even among conservatives. Fringe ideology in either direction, left or right, will get us nowhere fast.
Beck goes and makes a comparison between what appears to me to be an ill-cast Satan character in the History Channel series, “The Bible” and Barack Obama. Here’s a side-by-side:
From Beck’s perspective, this was just another opportunity — he doesn’t really pass up any — to take a jab at Obama and vilify the president by any means necessary. In fact, this is a good summation of the general program of conservative right wing radio in general.
As for the Satan character, I always pictured Satan, were he to take human form, as a young and attractive alpha male kind of figure. Does the History Channel really want to go on record as casting the most evil being of all time as an old black man? The History Channel? Oh well. Looks like that die has been cast.
I know I’m being a little dated here, but I wanted to briefly address this Sarah Palin/Paul Revere business. For anyone unfamiliar with the story, here’s the incriminating video:
Here, Palin indicates, while on a stop in Boston no less, that Paul Revere rode through town to
warn the British that they weren’t going to be taking away our arms by ringing those bells and making sure as he’s riding through town (bizarre change in pitch) to send those warning shots and bells that we were going to be secure and we were going to be free.
She later defended her comments on FOX News (appropriately, the only news channel to which she will grant interviews) with this retort to critics:
I know my American history … part of his ride was to warn the British that were already there, that, ‘Hey, you’re not going to succeed. You’re not going to take American arms. You are not going to beat our own well-armed persons, individual private militia that we have.’ He did warn the British.”
Sure. She knows her history. After more than one nudging by Glenn Beck (Glenn Beck no less!), she couldn’t name one of the Founding Fathers outside of George Washington and said that all of them were her favorite (I doubt she would have agreed much with Thomas Jefferson). She also gave the same ludicrously broad answer (“All of them”) when Katie Couric, again more than once, asked her to name just one newspaper or magazine that she regularly consulted. Further, she couldn’t name one Supreme Court case other than Roe v. Wade with which she disagreed:
Back to Revere, here is a letter written by the rider himself to Jeremy Belknap. In it, Revere tells of how he was trying evade the British while warning the colonists of their movements. Conspicuously absent from the letter is any mention of him ringing bells or firing shots to warn the households, as per Palin’s account. He was part of a committee with
the purpose of watching the Movements of the British Soldiers, and gaining every intelegence of the movements of the Tories. We held our meetings at the Green-Dragon Tavern. We were so carefull that our meetings should be kept Secret; that every time we met, every person swore upon the Bible, that they would not discover any of our transactions …
Later in the letter, he recalled how he narrowly escaped some British soldiers but was eventually captured. He then told the British how 500 Americans were on the way after he had warned the colonists of British actions. This L.A. Times article asks whether this is what Palin meant:
So was Revere warning the British that he had warned the Colonists? Is that what the prospective presidential candidate meant? Was Revere serving notice (at gunpoint)?
But Palin was clearing talking about Revere’s ride in the above quote from the FOX News interview (“part of his ride was to warn the British”), not whatever Revere said after being captured. Some Palin supporters have went so far as to erroneously modify Paul Revere’s Wikipedia entry to more closely reflect Palin’s cartoon-like account. Palin’s followers will seemingly do anything to make sure their star stays above board intellectually. But it’s really too late for that. She has disgraced herself repeatedly, and I hope that a majority of Americans understand the kind intellectual absentee that she is if she becomes an official candidate for president.
Previously, I wrote that Stephen Colbert might be the instigator of some sort of upcoming “Restoring Truthiness” rally to counteract Glenn Beck’s own “Restoring Honor” rally on Aug. 28, but as it turns out, Jon Stewart made the announcement Sept. 16 that The Daily Show staff (and most likely Colbert with him) are organizing an actual rally on Oct. 30 at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Here is a link to the official site. And here is the video:
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c|
|Rally to Restore Sanity|
Correction: Colbert is, indeed, planning his own rally, and it’s called the March to Keep Fear Alive rally, and it will be held the same day in Washington. Here’s the announcement:
|The Colbert Report||Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c|
|March to Keep Fear Alive Announcement|
Here is the image:
- There is, or there should be, a constant tug-of-war on the edges of the Overton Window on any issue.
- There is a place for everyone and anyone along the Left side of the rope, as long as we’re all pulling in the same general direction.
- The current location of the Overton Window is so far to the right of any objective political spectrum, that what are now considered Extreme Left Positions are really not extreme at all.((1))
The strategy of the Tea Party, right-wing crowd is this: alter what is perceived as conservative, and move that a bit to the right, rinse and repeat. Thus, proponents can then alter or blunt what is seen as a far-right stance, and make that far-right stance look as if it was more moderate, which, in turn, ever moves the arrow farther to the right, ad nauseam. If I have described the idea correctly, what we have is an ideology ever moving toward the right, while acceptance by the public, in tow, moves toward the right as well (it can obviously work to the left as well). As the above-referenced site notes, the right have mastered this strategy quite well, while the left has not, or at least not to the same degree. Or, according to the website:
Eliminationist Right-Wing Blogs and Fox News screechers may look like clowns, but that is their function. To stretch the Window so far to the Right that anything short of nuking the Middle East seems acceptable.
Thus, Beck. He, indeed, serves a unique, almost subversive, subconscious political purpose, just none that helps this country move forward.
That’s, according to Salam, Beck is a white version of X. Here’s Salam:
Whereas Malcom X embraced militant black separatism, Beck marries a stridently emotional style with political views that wouldn’t have been out of place at a 1950s Elks Lodge event. But like Malcolm X, Beck terrifies mainstream liberals, who see something sinister in his inexplicable ways. And just as Malcolm X mellowed in his old age, embracing a more traditional interpretation of Islam shortly before his death, Beck seems to be self-consciously moving past the politicized anger that defined his program for much of the past two years towards a heavy emphasis on spiritual uplift for his people.
I think this is a fairly ridiculous claim (See title). For one, as Salam claims, if Beck is attempting to enact some sort of spiritual awakening, he would be no different than the throngs of fervently religious — that’s not to mean terribly moral — politicians and evangelicals since the days of the Moral Majority and later, the Christian Coalition.
Second, Salam claims that Beck’s audience is mostly old and white. While that is true to some degree, it’s been fairly well-established that a number of black people follow the Tea Party’s credo, as well as quite intelligent young white people. Here’s some data from Gallup.
Also, Malcolm X’s followers, so far as I’m aware, were young black militants.
Salam also says:
Instead of accepting or embracing this transformation, a large and growing number of white Americans are, knowingly or otherwise, taking a page from minority protest movements of the past by asserting themselves and demanding recognition from political and cultural elites. Many on the left find this sense of anger and alienation risible, seeing in this movement of “are-nots,” as opposed to “have-nots,” a class of ignoramuses duped by Fox News into acting against their supposed economic interests.
Yet it seems more plausible that Fox News is following its audience rather than leading it — that this anger and alienation has existed for years, and has only now found a decidedly unconventional tribune in the form of Glenn Beck. Though this is a class with economic grievances, it seems more concerned with psychic injuries — with a profound sense of disempowerment in the face of centralized political power.
It is true that FOX News is following its audience rather than the other way around, for that’s what it means to be populist. And if Beck is anything, he’s a populist. Solutions to complex problems, as President Obama well knew prior to taking office, but well understood after taking the oath, are rarely popular, and more times than not, decidedly unpopular. And we can, I think, be thankful that within the framework of our free, democratic society, that some politicians have the guts (And I don’t exclude George W. Bush in some cases) to do that which isn’t necessarily popular for the common good. For the general public, more often than not, neither knows what it wants or what is best. It’s quite easy for Beck to lap at the trough of the popular movement of the day, one he helped create, but he’s no Malcolm X or Martin Luther King Jr., or any other transcendent leader. He’s a charismatic, very successful capitalist. That’s about it.
So, should we reclaim the dream or restore honor?
As it turns out, it depends on who you talk to. Whichever ambiguous path you choose, it’s sure to curry favor with either the Rev. Al Sharpton, who led an event today to honor the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic March on Washington in 1964, or Glenn Beck, and we all know his reputation. As it happens, Beck, the presiding FOX News lunatic who was holding his “Reclaim the Dream” rally in Washington on the same weekend, a gathering that he said was not, necessarily, planned, to coincide with King’s famous march and speech. Sure.
Here’s how The Washington Post has framed it:
On the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, steps away from where it was delivered, Sarah Palin and other speakers at Beck’s “Restoring Honor” rally staked a claim to King’s legacy and to that of the Founding Fathers. They urged a crowd that stretched to the Washington Monument to concentrate on the nation’s accomplishments rather than on its psychological scars.
“Something that is beyond man is happening,” Beck said from the base of the Lincoln Memorial. “America today begins to turn back to God.”
The event was billed as “nonpolitical,” and Beck steered clear of the partisan commentary that has made him a hero to many conservatives and a nemesis to many on the left. But political overtones were unmistakable, and the rally drew a large crowd – including many who said they were new to activism – that was energized and motivated to act.
The effort by Beck and Palin to lay claim to the mantle of the civil rights movement drew protests from the Rev. Al Sharpton and others who marched in a separate and much smaller event, to the National Mall from Dunbar High School in Northwest Washington, to commemorate King’s speech 47 years ago.
“The ‘March on Washington’ changed America,” Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) said at the Sharpton rally, referring to King’s speech. “Our country reached to overcome the low points of our racial history. Glenn Beck’s march will change nothing.” ((http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/08/28/AR2010082801106.html))
Not only will it not change anything, at least not for the good of the country, it will further splinter America. Beck, in all his civil rights fake-profundity, forgets that the tax cuts that he so trumpets nearly every day on his TV show will hurt many Americans who are the very people he claims to so embrace in the rally: low- to middle-income Americans.
Of course, there’s much over-excited banter from the other side as well. Here is Avis Jones DeWeever, executive director of the National Council of Negro Women:
Don’t let anyone tell you that they have the right to take their country back. It’s our country, too. We will reclaim the dream. It was ours from the beginning.
It is, indeed, black folks’ nation as well, but DeWeever, I think, misunderstands the point the Tea Party crowd, Beck, Palin and others have been attempting to make all along. They aren’t attempting to take the country back from black people or any race (That would be a perversion of the original intent), but from what they refer to as the liberal movement. Now, to me, the word “liberal” is a meaningless term. Even so, the point on Beck’s part is a political one, not a racial one.
And now, let me turn to numbers.
The Washington Post reported that thousands had descended on Washington for the Beck event, while Beck himself estimated that between 300,000-500,000 had attended the event. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), talking to a crowd after the Beck event had this to say:
We’re not going to let anyone get away with saying there were less than a million here today – because we were witnesses.
I find her use of the words “We were witnesses,” interesting. The numbers at the conservative event balloon from 300,000 to 500,000 then to a million? And yes, because we were witnesses, a million turned out to Washington to rail against the government. And because “we” (the gospel writers) were witnesses to the event, Christ performed miracles, raised Lazarus from the dead, exorcised demons and appeared before the disciples after death, and hundreds or maybe thousands were “witnesses” to UFO sightings or abductions and others were “witnesses” to paranormal activity and myriad other happenings that transcend the laws of nature. To simply establish that a person was a witness to a certain event doesn’t make the said event true. It makes the claimant either trustworthy, misunderstood, deceitful or, most plainly, wrong.
As it happens, the actual March on Washington likely consisted of between 200,000-300,000 people without any gross, and in Bachmann’s case, terribly gross, number-fudging.
Here is King’s monumental speech on that monumental day:
OK! So, just on principle, I’m forced to immediately retract a former statement, in which I said I quite enjoyed Ben Stein’s movie, “Expelled,” after listening to a meager 45 seconds of a Glenn Beck segment in which Stein himself, who, if anyone has actually followed the man, knows that Stein is Beck’s god on the topic of intellect — Or not, since Beck has somehow managed to build an entire empire on ranting and weeping — Stein actually said with, and I could find no hint of mocking, that he was
very stupid compared with you (Beck).
Beck laughs and says,
And this short introductory dialogue took place in all seriousness on Stein’s part from what I can observe from the following video:
Cheering so long that they can’t get the other time slot into the theaters? Of course they cheer. People thirst to have their opinions and beliefs, however defunct they may be by scientific or historic reality, enforced. Stein provides that for some folks. Beck provides that for still others. FOX News provides that for millions without a single daily second of independent thought and hours of unlearned, fear-splashed and irrational rhetoric.
Thanks to the Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin crowd and the latter’s “reload” mentality on the health care debate and other anti-government issues, who have been rousing the rabble for at least a year-plus now,
from Steven Anderson, pastor of Faithful Word Baptist Church in Tempe, Ariz.
and the following related story from ABC News:
One protester who didn’t want to give his name was walking around with a rifle – in full view.
One of the parishioners who attended Sunday night services at the Faithful Word Baptist Church was Christopher Broughton.
“I actually moved to the area because this church was preaching the message I believe in,” said Broughton.Broughton had an AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifle outside President Barack Obama’s speech to the VFW at the Phoenix Convention Center earlier this month.
The night before the speech, on August 16th, Broughton listened to Anderson’s “Why I hate Barack Obama” sermon. “I concur, I think we’d be better off if God would send (Obama) where he’s going now instead of later,” said Broughton. “(Obama) is destroying our country.”
Add to this fellows like Wiley Drake, who, on the authority of Psalms 109 and 149, and elsewhere I’m sure, is currently praying for the deaths of Barack Obama and the 219 members of Congress who voted for the health reform bill, which is called imprecatory praying. We have the likes of radio hosts, politicians with books and television shows to promote and others to thank for raising the level of this debate to irrational heights. Indeed, when the ability to reason and think logically fails us, emotion is all that’s left, and never more in recent memory, has that fact played out.
Case in point: here is an entertaining, insofar as it is also revolting, exchange between FOX News’ Alan Colmes and Drake:
The Bible says we’re to execute vengeance upon the heathen and punishment upon the people, and we’re to bind their kings. Now, we don’t have kings anymore, we have Congressmen, senators and presidents, but we’re to bind their kings with chains and their nobles with fetters of iron, and we’re to execute upon them the judgment that was written, and that is the honor of all the saints according to Psalms 149.
Hmm. Sounds like language one may find in another book that also has set back humanity for centuries. Of course, Drake not only gets the historical context of this passage wrong, but the spiritual context as well, if there is one at all. The Psalms are about the localized relationship between the Israelites and the deity they supposedly worshipped, and unless one wants to read the latter part of this chapter as looking forward to the second coming and ultimate judgment — I think that would be reading far too much into it — Drake is drastically offbase, and Colmes easily uncovers his failed logic.